node package manager



node-pre-gyp makes it easy to publish and install Node.js C++ addons from binaries


Build Status Build status Dependencies

node-pre-gyp stands between npm and node-gyp and offers a cross-platform method of binary deployment.


  • A command line tool called node-pre-gyp that can install your package's C++ module from a binary.
  • A variety of developer targeted commands for packaging, testing, and publishing binaries.
  • A JavaScript module that can dynamically require your installed binary: require('node-pre-gyp').find

For a hello world example of a module packaged with node-pre-gyp see and the wiki for real world examples.



See the Frequently Ask Questions.


  • Node.js >= node v0.10.x


node-pre-gyp is designed to be installed as a local dependency of your Node.js C++ addon and accessed like:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp --help

But you can also install it globally:

npm install node-pre-gyp -g



View all possible commands:

node-pre-gyp --help
  • clean - Remove the entire folder containing the compiled .node module
  • install - Install pre-built binary for module
  • reinstall - Run "clean" and "install" at once
  • build - Compile the module by dispatching to node-gyp or nw-gyp
  • rebuild - Run "clean" and "build" at once
  • package - Pack binary into tarball
  • testpackage - Test that the staged package is valid
  • publish - Publish pre-built binary
  • unpublish - Unpublish pre-built binary
  • info - Fetch info on published binaries

You can also chain commands:

node-pre-gyp clean build unpublish publish info


Options include:

  • -C/--directory: run the command in this directory
  • --build-from-source: build from source instead of using pre-built binary
  • --update-binary: reinstall by replacing previously installed local binary with remote binary
  • --runtime=node-webkit: customize the runtime: node, electron and node-webkit are the valid options
  • --fallback-to-build: fallback to building from source if pre-built binary is not available
  • --target=0.10.25: Pass the target node or node-webkit version to compile against
  • --target_arch=ia32: Pass the target arch and override the host arch. Valid values are 'ia32','x64', or arm.
  • --target_platform=win32: Pass the target platform and override the host platform. Valid values are linux, darwin, win32, sunos, freebsd, openbsd, and aix.

Both --build-from-source and --fallback-to-build can be passed alone or they can provide values. You can pass --fallback-to-build=false to override the option as declared in package.json. In addition to being able to pass --build-from-source you can also pass --build-from-source=myapp where myapp is the name of your module.

For example: npm install --build-from-source=myapp. This is useful if:

  • myapp is referenced in the package.json of a larger app and therefore myapp is being installed as a dependent with npm install.
  • The larger app also depends on other modules installed with node-pre-gyp
  • You only want to trigger a source compile for myapp and the other modules.


This is a guide to configuring your module to use node-pre-gyp.

1) Add new entries to your package.json

  • Add node-pre-gyp to dependencies
  • Add aws-sdk as a devDependency
  • Add a custom install script
  • Declare a binary object

This looks like:

    "dependencies"  : {
      "node-pre-gyp": "0.6.x"
    "devDependencies": {
      "aws-sdk": "2.x"
    "scripts": {
        "prepublish": "npm ls"
        "install": "node-pre-gyp install --fallback-to-build"
    "binary": {
        "module_name": "your_module",
        "module_path": "./lib/binding/",
        "host": ""

For a full example see node-addon-examples's package.json.

Let's break this down:

  • Dependencies need to list node-pre-gyp
  • Your devDependencies should list aws-sdk so that you can run node-pre-gyp publish locally or a CI system. We recommend using devDependencies only since aws-sdk is large and not needed for node-pre-gyp install since it only uses http to fetch binaries
  • You should add "bundledDependencies":["node-pre-gyp"]. This ensures that when you publish your module that the correct version of node-pre-gyp will be included in the node_modules folder during publishing. Then when uses install your module node-pre-gyp will already be present. Without this your module will not be safely installable for downstream applications that have a depedency on node-pre-gyp in the npm tree (without bundling npm deduping might break the install when node-pre-gyp is moved in flight)
  • Your scripts section should optionally add "prepublish": "npm ls" to ensure the right node-pre-gyp version is bundled before publishing your module. If node-pre-gyp is missing or an old version is present then this will catch that error before you publish a broken package.
  • Your scripts section should override the install target with "install": "node-pre-gyp install --fallback-to-build". This allows node-pre-gyp to be used instead of the default npm behavior of always source compiling with node-gyp directly.
  • Your package.json should contain a binary section describing key properties you provide to allow node-pre-gyp to package optimally. They are detailed below.

Note: in the past we recommended using "preinstall": "npm install node-pre-gyp" as an alternative method to avoid needing to bundle. But this does not behave predictably across all npm versions - see for the details. So we do not recommend using preinstall to install node-pre-gyp. Instead we recommend bundling.

The binary object has three required properties

The name of your native node module. This value must:

  • Match the name passed to the NODE_MODULE macro
  • Must be a valid C variable name (e.g. it cannot contain -)
  • Should not include the .node extension.

The location your native module is placed after a build. This should be an empty directory without other Javascript files. This entire directory will be packaged in the binary tarball. When installing from a remote package this directory will be overwritten with the contents of the tarball.

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.


A url to the remote location where you've published tarball binaries (must be https not http).

It is highly recommended that you use Amazon S3. The reasons are:

  • Various node-pre-gyp commands like publish and info only work with an S3 host.
  • S3 is a very solid hosting platform for distributing large files.
  • We provide detail documentation for using S3 hosting with node-pre-gyp.

Why then not require S3? Because while some applications using node-pre-gyp need to distribute binaries as large as 20-30 MB, others might have very small binaries and might wish to store them in a GitHub repo. This is not recommended, but if an author really wants to host in a non-s3 location then it should be possible.

It should also be mentioned that there is an optional and entirely separate npm module called node-pre-gyp-github which is intended to complement node-pre-gyp and be installed along with it. It provides the ability to store and publish your binaries within your repositories GitHub Releases if you would rather not use S3 directly. Installation and usage instructions can be found here, but the basic premise is that instead of using the node-pre-gyp publish command you would use node-pre-gyp-github publish.

The binary object has two optional properties

It is recommended that you customize this property. This is an extra path to use for publishing and finding remote tarballs. The default value for remote_path is "" meaning that if you do not provide it then all packages will be published at the base of the host. It is recommended to provide a value like ./{name}/v{version} to help organize remote packages in the case that you choose to publish multiple node addons to the same host.

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.


It is not recommended to override this property unless you are also overriding the remote_path. This is the versioned name of the remote tarball containing the binary .node module and any supporting files you've placed inside the module_path directory. Unless you specify package_name in your package.json then it defaults to {module_name}-v{version}-{node_abi}-{platform}-{arch}.tar.gz which allows your binary to work across node versions, platforms, and architectures. If you are using remote_path that is also versioned by ./{module_name}/v{version} then you could remove these variables from the package_name and just use: {node_abi}-{platform}-{arch}.tar.gz. Then your remote tarball will be looked up at, for example,

Avoiding the version of your module in the package_name and instead only embedding in a directory name can be useful when you want to make a quick tag of your module that does not change any C++ code. In this case you can just copy binaries to the new version behind the scenes like:

aws s3 sync --acl public-read s3://mapbox-node-binary/sqlite3/v3.0.3/ s3://mapbox-node-binary/sqlite3/v3.0.4/

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.

2) Add a new target to binding.gyp

node-pre-gyp calls out to node-gyp to compile the module and passes variables along like module_name and module_path.

A new target must be added to binding.gyp that moves the compiled .node module from ./build/Release/module_name.node into the directory specified by module_path.

Add a target like this at the end of your targets list:

      "target_name": "action_after_build",
      "type": "none",
      "dependencies": [ "<(module_name)" ],
      "copies": [
          "files": [ "<(PRODUCT_DIR)/<(module_name).node" ],
          "destination": "<(module_path)"

For a full example see node-addon-example's binding.gyp.

3) Dynamically require your .node

Inside the main js file that requires your addon module you are likely currently doing:

var binding = require('../build/Release/binding.node');


var bindings = require('./bindings')

Change those lines to:

var binary = require('node-pre-gyp');
var path = require('path');
var binding_path = binary.find(path.resolve(path.join(__dirname,'./package.json')));
var binding = require(binding_path);

For a full example see node-addon-example's index.js

4) Build and package your app

Now build your module from source:

npm install --build-from-source

The --build-from-source tells node-pre-gyp to not look for a remote package and instead dispatch to node-gyp to build.

Now node-pre-gyp should now also be installed as a local dependency so the command line tool it offers can be found at ./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp.

5) Test

Now npm test should work just as it did before.

6) Publish the tarball

Then package your app:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp package

Once packaged, now you can publish:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp publish

Currently the publish command pushes your binary to S3. This requires:

  • You have installed aws-sdk with npm install aws-sdk
  • You have created a bucket already.
  • The host points to an S3 http or https endpoint.
  • You have configured node-pre-gyp to read your S3 credentials (see S3 hosting for details).

You can also host your binaries elsewhere. To do this requires:

  • You manually publish the binary created by the package command to an https endpoint
  • Ensure that the host value points to your custom https endpoint.

7) Automate builds

Now you need to publish builds for all the platforms and node versions you wish to support. This is best automated.

8) You're done!

Now publish your module to the npm registry. Users will now be able to install your module from a binary.

What will happen is this:

  1. npm install <your package> will pull from the npm registry
  2. npm will run the install script which will call out to node-pre-gyp
  3. node-pre-gyp will fetch the binary .node module and unpack in the right place
  4. Assuming that all worked, you are done

If a a binary was not available for a given platform and --fallback-to-build was used then node-gyp rebuild will be called to try to source compile the module.

S3 Hosting

You can host wherever you choose but S3 is cheap, node-pre-gyp publish expects it, and S3 can be integrated well with to automate builds for OS X and Ubuntu, and with Appveyor to automate builds for Windows. Here is an approach to do this:

First, get setup locally and test the workflow:

1) Create an S3 bucket

And have your key and secret key ready for writing to the bucket.

It is recommended to create a IAM user with a policy that only gives permissions to the specific bucket you plan to publish to. This can be done in the IAM console by: 1) adding a new user, 2) choosing Attach User Policy, 3) Using the Policy Generator, 4) selecting Amazon S3 for the service, 5) adding the actions: DeleteObject, GetObject, GetObjectAcl, ListBucket, PutObject, PutObjectAcl, 6) adding an ARN of arn:aws:s3:::bucket/* (replacing bucket with your bucket name), and finally 7) clicking Add Statement and saving the policy. It should generate a policy like:

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Sid": "Stmt1394587197000",
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
      "Resource": [

2) Install node-pre-gyp

Either install it globally:

npm install node-pre-gyp -g

Or put the local version on your PATH

export PATH=`pwd`/node_modules/.bin/:$PATH

3) Configure AWS credentials

There are several ways to do this.

You can use any of the methods described at

Or you can create a ~/.node_pre_gyprc

Or pass options in any way supported by RC

A ~/.node_pre_gyprc looks like:

    "accessKeyId": "xxx",
    "secretAccessKey": "xxx"

Another way is to use your environment:

export node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId=xxx
export node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey=xxx

You may also need to specify the region if it is not explicit in the host value you use. The bucket can also be specified but it is optional because node-pre-gyp will detect it from the host value.

4) Package and publish your build

Install the aws-sdk:

npm install aws-sdk

Then publish:

node-pre-gyp package publish

Note: if you hit an error like Hostname/IP doesn't match certificate's altnames it may mean that you need to provide the region option in your config.

Appveyor Automation

Appveyor can build binaries and publish the results per commit and supports:

  • Windows Visual Studio 2013 and related compilers
  • Both 64 bit (x64) and 32 bit (x86) build configurations
  • Multiple Node.js versions

For an example of doing this see node-sqlite3's appveyor.yml.

Below is a guide to getting set up:

1) Create a free Appveyor account

Go to and sign in with your GitHub account.

2) Create a new project

Go to and select the GitHub repo for your module

3) Add appveyor.yml and push it

Once you have committed an appveyor.yml (appveyor.yml reference) to your GitHub repo and pushed it AppVeyor should automatically start building your project.

4) Create secure variables

Encrypt your S3 AWS keys by going to and hitting the encrypt button.

Then paste the result into your appveyor.yml

    secure: Dn9HKdLNYvDgPdQOzRq/DqZ/MPhjknRHB1o+/lVU8MA=
    secure: W1rwNoSnOku1r+28gnoufO8UA8iWADmL1LiiwH9IOkIVhDTNGdGPJqAlLjNqwLnL

NOTE: keys are per account but not per repo (this is difference than Travis where keys are per repo but not related to the account used to encrypt them).

5) Hook up publishing

Just put node-pre-gyp package publish in your appveyor.yml after npm install.

6) Publish when you want

You might wish to publish binaries only on a specific commit. To do this you could borrow from the Travis CI idea of commit keywords and add special handling for commit messages with [publish binary]:

if not "%CM%" == "%CM:[publish binary]=%" node-pre-gyp --msvs_version=2013 publish

If your commit message contains special characters (e.g. &) this method might fail. An alternative is to use PowerShell, which gives you additional possibilities, like ignoring case by using ToLower():

ps: if($env:APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT_MESSAGE.ToLower().Contains('[publish binary]')) { node-pre-gyp --msvs_version=2013 publish }

Remember this publishing is not the same as npm publish. We're just talking about the binary module here and not your entire npm package.

Travis Automation

Travis can push to S3 after a successful build and supports both:

  • Ubuntu Precise and OS X (64 bit)
  • Multiple Node.js versions

For an example of doing this see node-add-example's .travis.yml.

Note: if you need 32 bit binaries, this can be done from a 64 bit Travis machine. See the node-sqlite3 scripts for an example of doing this.

Below is a guide to getting set up:

1) Install the Travis gem

gem install travis

2) Create secure variables

Make sure you run this command from within the directory of your module.

Use travis-encrypt like:

travis encrypt node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId=${node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId}
travis encrypt node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey=${node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey}

Then put those values in your .travis.yml like:

    secure: F+sEL/v56CzHqmCSSES4pEyC9NeQlkoR0Gs/ZuZxX1ytrj8SKtp3MKqBj7zhIclSdXBz4Ev966Da5ctmcTd410p0b240MV6BVOkLUtkjZJyErMBOkeb8n8yVfSoeMx8RiIhBmIvEn+rlQq+bSFis61/JkE9rxsjkGRZi14hHr4M=
    secure: o2nkUQIiABD139XS6L8pxq3XO5gch27hvm/gOdV+dzNKc/s2KomVPWcOyXNxtJGhtecAkABzaW8KHDDi5QL1kNEFx6BxFVMLO8rjFPsMVaBG9Ks6JiDQkkmrGNcnVdxI/6EKTLHTH5WLsz8+J7caDBzvKbEfTux5EamEhxIWgrI=

More details on Travis encryption at

3) Hook up publishing

Just put node-pre-gyp package publish in your .travis.yml after npm install.

OS X publishing

If you want binaries for OS X in addition to linux you can enable multi-os for Travis

Use a configuration like:

language: cpp
- linux
- osx
    - NODE_VERSION="0.10"
    - NODE_VERSION="0.11.14"
- rm -rf ~/.nvm/ && git clone --depth 1 ~/.nvm
- source ~/.nvm/
- nvm install $NODE_VERSION
- nvm use $NODE_VERSION

See Travis OS X Gotchas for why we replace language: node_js and node_js: sections with language: cpp and a custom matrix.

Also create platform specific sections for any deps that need install. For example if you need libpng:

- if [ $(uname -s) == 'Linux' ]; then apt-get install libpng-dev; fi;
- if [ $(uname -s) == 'Darwin' ]; then brew install libpng; fi;

For detailed multi-OS examples see node-mapnik and node-sqlite3.

Travis OS X Gotchas

First, unlike the Travis Linux machines, the OS X machines do not put node-pre-gyp on PATH by default. To do so you will need to:

export PATH=$(pwd)/node_modules/.bin:${PATH}

Second, the OS X machines do not support using a matrix for installing different Node.js versions. So you need to bootstrap the installation of Node.js in a cross platform way.

By doing:

    - NODE_VERSION="0.10"
    - NODE_VERSION="0.11.14"
 - rm -rf ~/.nvm/ && git clone --depth 1 ~/.nvm
 - source ~/.nvm/
 - nvm install $NODE_VERSION
 - nvm use $NODE_VERSION

You can easily recreate the previous behavior of this matrix:

  - "0.10"
  - "0.11.14"

4) Publish when you want

You might wish to publish binaries only on a specific commit. To do this you could borrow from the Travis CI idea of commit keywords and add special handling for commit messages with [publish binary]:

COMMIT_MESSAGE=$(git log --format=%B --no-merges -n 1 | tr -d '\n')
if [[ ${COMMIT_MESSAGE} =~ "[publish binary]" ]]; then node-pre-gyp publish; fi;

Then you can trigger new binaries to be built like:

git commit -a -m "[publish binary]"

Or, if you don't have any changes to make simply run:

git commit --allow-empty -m "[publish binary]"

WARNING: if you are working in a pull request and publishing binaries from there then you will want to avoid double publishing when Travis CI builds both the push and pr. You only want to run the publish on the push commit. See which is called from for an example of how to do this.

Remember this publishing is not the same as npm publish. We're just talking about the binary module here and not your entire npm package. To automate the publishing of your entire package to npm on Travis see


The binary properties of module_path, remote_path, and package_name support variable substitution. The strings are evaluated by node-pre-gyp depending on your system and any custom build flags you passed.

  • node_abi: The node C++ ABI number. This value is available in Javascript as process.versions.modules as of >= v0.10.4 >= v0.11.7 and in C++ as the NODE_MODULE_VERSION define much earlier. For versions of Node before this was available we fallback to the V8 major and minor version.
  • platform matches node's process.platform like linux, darwin, and win32 unless the user passed the --target_platform option to override.
  • arch matches node's process.arch like x64 or ia32 unless the user passes the --target_arch option to override.
  • configuration - Either 'Release' or 'Debug' depending on if --debug is passed during the build.
  • module_name - the binary.module_name attribute from package.json.
  • version - the semver version value for your module from package.json (NOTE: ignores the property).
  • major, minor, patch, and prelease match the individual semver values for your module's version
  • build - the sevmer build value. For example it would be this.that if your package.json version was v1.0.0+this.that
  • prerelease - the semver prerelease value. For example it would be alpha.beta if your package.json version was v1.0.0-alpha.beta

The options are visible in the code at

Download binary files from a mirror

S3 is broken in China for the well known reason.

Using the npm config argument: --{module_name}_binary_host_mirror can download binary files through a mirror.

e.g.: Install v8-profiler from npm.

$ npm install v8-profiler --profiler_binary_host_mirror=